Click on the link above and read Psalm 123 before reading the rest (it’s only four verses, so you won’t be put out for more than ten seconds of your time).
I don’t know if Psalm 123 has much relevance for us in our culture here in the States. The church in our culture doesn’t face much opposition. Our homes, health, families, and lives aren’t under constant threat. Yeah, we’ve been all bent out of shape for decades about the whole prayer in school thing, but that’s not opposition. There’s some language in the monstrous “stimulus” package that Congress just passed that may have an effect on Christian groups meeting on college campuses (the language, as usual in Congressional bills, is pretty vague), but that isn’t opposition, either. So Psalm 123 may not have much meaning for us.
But there are Christians throughout the world that are suffering greatly simply for being Christians. They face threats of harm and death simply for following Jesus. This psalm would have loads of meaning for them. Like the psalmist, they would pray daily for God to be gracious to them because they’ve faced their share of contempt, scorn, and pride from those who oppose them.
I know that all Scripture is useful to us, but we don’t have the history that the original readers did–foreign powers opposing them, sometimes overrunning them and even destroying everything sacred to them. But we don’t face those things. The “liberal media” isn’t a threat. Neo-atheist bloggers aren’t a threat. Maybe it is because that meeting on Sundays to sing songs and listen to sermons while trying to be good during the week doesn’t threaten anyone. Maybe it doesn’t threaten anyone because such a life doesn’t reflect Jesus all that much.
What would it take for us to, one day, find great meaning and comfort in a psalm like this?